North Korea Problems Predate Bush Administration
- 14 July 2006 by Author 0 Comments
North Korea Problems Predate Bush Administration
By Richard Larsen
Printed 7/14/06, Idaho State Journal
Sometimes a historical refresher course is needed to place current world events in the proper perspective. Such is necessary for the current dilemma with North Korea, especially in light of the finger-pointing at the Bush administration.
In 1994, former President Jimmy Carter went to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on assignment from President Bill Clinton. Kim Il Sung had expelled investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency and was threatening to begin processing spent nuclear fuel. Carter’s visit resulted in the signing of the Agreed Framework, under which North Korea agreed to stop processing nuclear fuel, in exchange for a return to normalized relations, shipments of 500,000 metric tons of oil, and two light water reactors to replace its graphite reactors. Total cost: nearly $1 billion. Within three weeks of signing the agreement, Pyong Yang was already in violation. Amazingly, the agreement was hailed as a major diplomatic achievement for Carter and Clinton. To his credit, President Bush dismantled this international blackmail program shortly after taking office in 2001.
In August 1998, North Korea lobbed a Taepo Dong 1 missile over Japan. Four months later, DPRK officials refused U.S. inspectors access to a suspected underground nuclear reactor at Kumchang-ni. President Clinton then sweetened his deal with North Korea by rewarding Kim Jong Il’s stall tactics with 1.1 million tons of food worth nearly $200 million. Not surprisingly, by the time American inspectors arrived at the scene, the suspected site had been swept clean.
It seems little wonder North Korea has made threats of nuclear conflagration its only functional export industry, besides their weapons themselves. Even as floods and famine emaciated its nearly 22 million citizens, regime leaders earmarked every available dollar for guns, not butter, in the hope that the U.S. would pay their price without demanding accountable disarmament. Their gamble paid off. Clinton’s appeasement programs made North Korea the leading recipient of foreign aid in the Asia-Pacific region.
Clinton’s appeasement policy toward North Korea, very reminiscent of Chamberlains’ preceding World War II, has proven disastrous. The most isolated nation in the world possesses a weapon capable of striking the United States (the Taepo Dong 2 missile). Kim Jung Il has threatened to use these missiles against America at least three times in 21 months. After kicking UN inspectors out of one of the DPRK’s primary nuclear facilities, the short trip to full nuclear status has been quickly engaged.
Some in the media and in Washington ignorantly make incriminating remarks about the failed Bush policies in North Korea. Viewed historically, much like the current problems with international terrorism and Iran, these challenges have their roots in failed Carter and Clinton era foreign policy. Remember the Shah of Iran who was our ally in the 1970’s? It was Carter who lead the dismantling of the Shah’s government, creating a vacuum quickly filled by one Ayatollah Khomeini. The rest is history, although many Carter apologists try to rewrite it.
Bush is criticized for creating these problems with his “axis of evil” remarks in the 2002 State of the Union address, as well as letting the issue “creep” up on him. The problem not only predated Bush’s remarks, but they’ve been dealing with it virtually non-stop since 2002. You can’t have it both ways, folks!
President Clinton’s inexplicable coddling of dictators who yearned for Weapons of Mass Destruction brought us to this point. One of his errors was reversing nine previous U.S. administrations’ refusal to negotiate with terrorists, including dictators like Kim Jung Il, and his father, Kim Il Sung. Wisely, President Bush has re-established the policy of no negotiations with terrorists or terrorist states by insisting on six nation talks (China, Russia, South Korea, Japan, U.S. and DPRK) to resolve the nuclear threat from North Korea. Although it does make one wonder what they’re thinking when they indicate they would be willing to talk face to face with Iran. Who knows what’s going on there.
On July 10, White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters that Clinton’s emissaries “went with flowers and chocolates, and he went with light-water nuclear reactors … and a basketball signed by Michael Jordan and many other inducements for the ‘dear leader’ to try to agree not to develop nuclear weapons, and it failed.” Snow added, “We’ve learned from that mistake.”
When you hear politicians and media pundits lay the roots of the North Korean and Iranian nuclear problems at the doorstep of the Bush Administration, remember that both issues predated the “axis of evil” State of the Union address of 2002. When they say that these conundrums have taken the Administration by surprise, remember that it was at least four years ago that the problems were acknowledged publicly. It is obvious that appeasement has not worked with both regimes, and diplomacy seems increasingly impotent as well.
Further, those who are most critical of the current diplomatic process are impatient with it, claiming the Bush approach isn’t working. And yet, when it came to Iraq, 12 years, and 13 United Nations resolutions later, Bush “rushed” to war. Again, folks, you can’t have it both ways. The Clinton and Carter days of giving away the store for appeasement are no longer. True diplomacy may take awhile. Give it a little time, and if it doesn’t work, then bomb their nuclear production and missile launch sites!
Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at email@example.com.